WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden has asked Ecuador to turn down an asylum request from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, the country's president said Saturday.
Rafael Correa, in a weekly television address, offered little sympathy for the Obama administration's view that Snowden is a criminal who should be swiftly returned to the United States. At the same time, he vowed to seek American input on any asylum request and suggested Snowden will have to answer for his actions.
The Friday phone call between Correa and Biden — it's the highest-level conversation between the United States and Ecuador to be disclosed since Snowden began seeking asylum — added to the confusion about Snowden's status. Facing espionage charges in the United States, Snowden is believed to be holed up in a Moscow airport's transit zone and seeking safe passage to Ecuador.
Julian Assange, founder of the antisecrecy group WikiLeaks, has been given asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London.
Correa said he had a "friendly and very cordial" conversation with Biden, and told the vice president that Ecuador hadn't sought to be put in the situation of deciding whether to harbor an American justice-dodger. He said Ecuador can't consider the asylum request until Snowden is on Ecuadorian soil.
Snowden, a former NSA contractor, revealed the agency's massive Internet and phone surveillance to two newspapers.